Editor’s note : It is part of a six-part series that shows how professional sports owners in the United States contribute to political campaigns, why they spend millions in space, and what this financial strength means if athletes stay active in their own sports campaigns.
BILLION OPERATORS from all of us. A young enthusiast supporting a rebel candidate can send a $20 contribution to his or her campaign, but those with large fortunes write cheques for hundreds of thousands of dollars to national political parties and super-parliamentary guerrillas. That’s enough to cover a market like Cincinnati or Raleigh with TV commercials for a few days.
While Lebron James played for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Cleveland Rally, the NBA owners have invested millions directly and indirectly in the campaign of the NBA and its opponent Donald Trump. The effectiveness of free media coverage of an event attended by a James Confessor can be discussed, but new money can be used to buy material resources for a nationwide campaign. Money, as they say, is the mother’s milk of politics.
The NBA has long occupied a place in high-level American politics. Larry O’Brien, the namesake of a trophy awarded to the Los Angeles Lakers in October, was an NBA commissioner at dusk in his professional career. He is best known as a prominent political officer who played a central role in the campaigns of John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson in 1964, and Robert F. Kennedy in 1968 as chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
Herb Kohl was an American Senator for 24 years as the owner of the Milwaukee Bucks. Between 1989 and his death this year, former NBA Commissioner David Stern made individual donations of more than $2 million to Democratic candidates for federal offices and party committees. For many years, NBA owners such as Larry Weinberg and Abe Pollin have been prominent and well-known donors to the U.S.-Israeli Public Affairs Committee. According to a Federal Election Commission study conducted by ESPN and FiveThirtyEight, NBA owners now collectively give an average of more than $4 million per federal election cycle to candidates from the far left to the far right of the political spectrum.
These election protocols sometimes raise more questions than answers. Why did the owner of the Chicago Bulls, Jerry Rainsdorf, get the best out of Montana St. Louis? John Tester and his Republican challenger Matt Rosendale in 2018? The owner of the Houston Rockets, Tillman Fertitta, presented Arizona Senator Martha McSally with a failed bid for re-election. Why is he now supporting their opponent in this round, Democrat Mark Kelly, with $15,400 (including a $10,000 donation to the Democratic Party of Arizona)? Why has the owner of the Indiana Pacers, Herb Simon, contributed to the work of Ted Cruise, Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, John Kasich and Hillary Clinton – all candidates for the same position in 2016?
The history of political donations teaches us a lot about a donor, often even about his or her motivation to give in general. And when it comes to the class of billionaires who run professional sports franchises, these contributions are not always what they seem.
Fault! The file name is not specified. Miki Arison, owner ofMiami Heat, has one of the most interesting political stories in the NBA. Steve Mitchell U.S.A. Sports
MIAMI owner of date Mickey Arison is the Titan cruiser, who was the President and CEO of Carnival Corporation for decades. Even after selling nearly $1 billion of Carnival’s stock about six years ago, the Arisons still own almost a quarter of the company.
Arison has one of the most interesting political stories in the NBA. He has contributed to the lives of the most conservative Republicans and the most liberal Democrats. It gives large sums of money to the committees of the Republican and Democratic parties fighting for a majority against each other. He will sacrifice himself for the member, then reverse the next election cycle and sacrifice himself for the candidate who defeated him.
If you take a closer look at Arison’s count, you’ll see some encouraging trends. Each election cycle, Arison contributes to the work of Ohio State Congressman Bob Gibbs, who comes from the predominantly rural and safe Republican District, the largest of which is a small reservoir that covers a modest 1,350 acres during the summer months. This contribution makes more sense considering that Gibbs is a senior minority member of the House’s Subcommittee on Transport, which oversees cruise ships.
In the United States of America, in Gibbs, Arison has generously divided the cycle in the ranking of the relevant committees of the House of Representatives and the Senate. Sean Patrick Maloney from New York, who took over the presidency when Democrats won the House, received $5,400 from Arison. In the Senate, Republican Roger Vicker (Chairman of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee of the Senate) received $5,550 and Maria Cantwell (Democratic arranger) $2,500.
What’s behind Arison’s seemingly random check for $1,500 to the Hawaiian Democratic Party (PAC)? This is the leadership of PAC Brian Schatz, a young Democratic senator who is regarded by politicians as one of the most fickle legislators on the Hill when it comes to the cruise industry (Mr. Schatz has received money for cruise ships since his vice-governor in Hawaii).
Arison is a cruise industry and it is very strategic in its talent, wrote Ross Klein, a professor and expert on cruise ships, in his book Cruise Ship Squeeze.
If you look at the list of committee members in both houses, chances are that their campaigns have received donations from Arison, be it the Liberal Democrat and civil rights activist Elijah Cummings or the right-wing Republican Randy Weber, who described President Barack Obama as a socialist dictator and commander-in-chief just before his speech to the Union State Congress in 2014. Even Stacy Plaschett, a voting member of the U.S. Virgin Islands, received $10,200 for this cycle from Arison and his wife Madeleine. (Mickey Arison is the only donor who has done his utmost for Plasquet, both in the primaries and the parliamentary elections). By the way, Carnival offers eight-day cruises to the American Virgin Islands.
As none of the Carnival fleets operate under the American flag and are highly regulated by the international law of the sea, the powers of Congress are somewhat limited. In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Coast Guard have the final decision on whether or not to transport passengers by cruise ship. However, the legislator can still issue regulations on an annual basis that can represent hundreds of millions of dollars for the industry as a whole.
For example, in 2010 Congress passed the Cruise Ships and Security Act, which requires cruise companies to report violations, missing passengers and suspicious deaths on board to the Coast Guard and the FBI. The courts also had to replace the cabin doors with locks and safety eyes, bring kits for potential rape victims and have a trained forensic attacker on board. Congress also regulates the waste stream from ships and the landing procedures for cruise ships docking in the United States – and who pays for it. More recently, the cruise ship became a flashpoint in the COWID-19 climate change mitigation negotiations, as many members of Congress opposed the transfer of funds to cruise ship operators knowingly based outside the United States.
Since many property owners own a real estate empire, their political contributions are often focused on local candidates. The owner of the Miami Dolphin, Stephen Ross, donates hundreds of thousands of dollars to federal candidates – the vast majority of Republicans and a handful of Democrats in New York and New Jersey – and actively participates in local elections, some of which are held in remote cities. The Ross Real Estate Development Corporation has large scale, high-profile projects across the country and where you can find these buildings, you will find contributions for mayor candidates.
Ram Emanuel received $60,000 from Ross during his tenure as mayor of Chicago, where the company owns a dozen properties. This trend continues throughout the country: Ross and Equinox, also owned by Ross, ran for Mayor of Los Angeles and the City Council, while Gavin Newsome and Adrian Fentie received contributions from Ross during their terms as mayors of San Francisco and Washington, DC, respectively.
For companies like Carnival and its loved ones, it is important to sit at the table when new laws and regulations are being discussed.
Fault! The file name is not specified. Politically, the magical owner Dan DeVos is the founder of the very rich Republican Party. Fernando Medina/NBAE about Getty Images
Orlando Magic Dan Devos comes from one of the most conservative royal families in America. In 1959, DeVos’ father, Richard, co-founded the multilevel marketing company Amway and turned it into a multi-billion dollar empire. Richard bought Magic in 1991 for $85 million and died in 2018. In 2011, Dan assumed the role of Magic’s representative on the board of directors of the NBA.
When Rich DeVos amassed his fortune, he became a generous donor to the emerging right-wing religious movement in the country. In 1975, he made a personal contribution of $25,000 to be the main benefactor of the Christian Freedom Foundation, an organization that told readers of contemporary Christianity that our country is based on a certain harmony of values preserved by our Christian heritage … It is time for responsible Christians to participate in state affairs.
Elder DeVos is dual chairman of the National Policy Council, an organization founded in 1981 by author and Christian fundamentalist leader Tim LaHay to bring together the excellent voices of the right, from Pat Robertson and Phyllis Schlaffleigh to Ed Meez and Paul Weyrich.
In addition to tens of millions of dollars in donations to government agencies in Michigan, the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation has made significant contributions to anti-gay organizations such as Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council. Dan DeVos’ sister-in-law is Betsy DeVos, Minister of Education, who was a lightning rod in the cultural wars that raged during the reign of Tromp.
Studies have shown that more politicized parents tend to produce children who accept their political affiliation, and Dan DeVos’ calculated political contributions suggest this.
From an early age, my brothers, my sister and I learned from our parents that political participation is an important responsibility for all Americans and that they have been with me all my life, Dan DeVos told ESPN.
Among the recipients of the largest grant from the Daniel and Pamela DeVos Foundation in 2018 are Alma Mater DeVos, Northwood University, Grand Valley State University, the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Grand Rapids Art Museum.
Politically, however, Dan DeVos is the founder, a very wealthy donor of the Republican Party. As part of the current election cycle, DeVos has each donated $200,000 to the PAC established to elect Republicans to the House of Representatives, America First Action, the prestigious pro-Donald Trump Super PAC, and the one-time Super PAC in support of Michigan state senator, John James. In addition, DeVos maximized 13 of the 20 current Republican senators scheduled for re-election in November and allocated nearly $200,000 to committees that want to maintain the Republican majority in the House of Lords.
Mr DeVos said that his initiative was motivated by the desire to empower all people, to preserve and strengthen individual freedoms for all, and to promote a fair and open economy that rewards work, encourages innovation and recognises the important value of each individual.
DeVos will support non-publicans in the rare cases where a party is unable to prepare a competitive candidate, such as in a non-partisan race for mayor of Orlando. The PAC, which supports the outgoing Mayor Democratic Friend Dyer, has received $50,000 more from DeVos than any other individual or organization. (PAC also received $45,000 from Disney Worldwide Services, a subsidiary of its parent company ESPN, which is the second largest after DeVos).
At the other end of the political spectrum, co-owner Laura Ricketts of the Chicago Cubs has made the most progressive political contribution to the sport, setting her apart from the rest of her family. One of the Ricketts brothers, Todd, is currently the financial chairman of the RNC, and their brother Piet is the Republican Governor of Nebraska.
Laura Ricketts founded the LPAC, the CPT, a pro-LGBT women’s movement to which she has contributed more than $1 million over the past three election cycles. This year she donated $35,500 for DNA and $300,000 for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. She enthusiastically supported female candidates in federal elections by contributing more than $100,000 to the establishment of the Super BCC, which supports women running for federal office.
Today’s two major political parties are cherished by true believers who are deeply committed to the gospel by proclaiming their vision of what an American should look like. Few things in political life are stronger than this belief, which is supported by billions of dollars.
Fault! The file name is not specified. Mark Lasry was a modest political donor until 2004. Gary Dineen/NVAE/Getty Pictures
THE THIRD GROUP OF PARTICIPANTS, driven by less specific motivations Some of them are social beings who exploit the company of their fellow power brokers, while others involve you in the game of politics, as you might be in NBA basketball.
The opportunity to play golf with a former president can be the motivation to donate a scarce good to someone in an emergency situation. And some people say yes when they are asked for political contributions because they appreciate their relationship with the person who asks for them.
If you look at the motives of an American sports owner, it’s likely that there’s more than one of these factors in play – if not all of them. Mark Lasri, owner of the Milwaukee Bucks, is the most important NBA, whose combination of broad political orientation and social tendencies makes him an inhabitant of the democratic elite circle.
Hedge fund manager Lasri, who, like Arison, refused to comment on the story, is not an ideologist, but a Moroccan immigrant who said he appreciated the Democratic Party’s general belief that the government should actively help people in need.
Lasri was a relatively modest donor, limiting his donations to $2,000, mainly to the New York Democrats and others, including Ram Emanuel’s congressional campaign in Chicago, until the summer of 2004, when he wrote his first checks for $25,000 to the Senate and House of Representatives committees. His close friendship with Emanuel deepened his relationship with the security center of the party and thus the financial support of his candidates. It’s mutually beneficial: Like any important politician, Emanuel collects money informally, and Lasri has to meet this need for a friend.
Famous donors and influential politicians often become friends, which means there are Hanukkah parties in the White House and rounds of golf in Martha’s vineyard. Go to the office or apartment of a large party donor and chances are you’ll find a framed picture of him with the president or senator.
Lasri’s deep involvement in the Democratic Party goes far beyond the debate on health or the composition of the Supreme Court.
Over time, politicians have called him for advice on the economic landscape. He began attending major events on a regular basis and in 2012 he was one of the few who could say he was hosting a dinner at his home with Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Clinton was in the seats with Lasry several times at the Bax game in Milwaukee and Brooklyn.
After all, party fanatics meet almost every politician who wants to, which means they can expect (or hope) that the candidate will make a contribution. In the 2020 Democratic primary, Lasri gave money to Joe Biden, Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand and Pete Battijig. Lasri was not so much a wish as an old friend or knowledge of different candidates.
Personal relationships play a central role in these political repatriations. The owner of the New England Patriots, Robert Kraft, made his first contribution to the individual candidate campaign in more than five years by donating $15,000 to Jake Ochinkloss, 32, a young, hopeful congressman. What for? Maybe because the candidate’s mother is the executive director of the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. Kraft’s wife Myra died in July 2011, more than a year after she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. The family donated millions of dollars to an institution that generously helped them. What a critic might call a cynical imitation of another person could be called material support for a person who shares a common cause.
Some of the biggest party donors are amateurs who love the action, while others like to see their infamous names on the wall of an old American institution as a big political party. Some of them came here for real estate pornography, which in fundraising circles means that they use the temptation of a luxury home to attract potential donors. Some may want the ego-satisfaction of an exclusive company, while others just do a favor for a friend who has given up his charity project.
As long as American political parties and their politicians are funded with money, people with money will be close by.